SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Hosting their highest-ranked opponent since 2005, Sacramento State hung with No. 6 Cal State Northridge for most of the match but the Matadors were able to find the back of the net three times to score a 3-0 win on Friday at Hornet Field.
The match was the Big West Conference opener for both teams, as Cal State Northridge opened defense of its 2012 conference title with a win to improve to 9-1-0 on the season while the Hornets moved to 2-4-3.
"I was pretty pleased with my team for good portions of the game," Hornet head coach Michael Linenberger said. "I thought between the boxes we were toe-to-toe with them, but they were better than us inside both boxes. They didn't create a ton of chances but they scored goals on the chances they created."
The first 20 minutes of the match were very even, as each side had some opportunities but neither was able to put a shot on frame. The Matadors had the first shot on goal off a free kick in the 21st minute that was stopped by Hornet goalkeeper Cesar Castillo, but less than two minutes later Northridge got a goal from junior Edwin Rivas on a finely struck ball from the top of the box to the far post.
Sacramento State put a couple of tries on goal over the remainder of the first half but the Matadors stopped both easily. The visitors doubled their lead early in the second half, as fine passing found senior Beto Velasquez open five yards from goal and his shot beat Castillo to the far corner to put Northridge up 2-0 in the 53rd minute.
The Hornets had their best scoring chances of the match in the ensuing minutes. In the 68th minute Sacramento State junior Andres Garcia had a header try from close range stopped on a lunging save by Matador goalkeeper Adam Hobbs. Hornet junior Chimdum Mez had a golden opportunity off a fine lead pass in the 80th minute that was denied from less than five yards out by Hobbs.
While the Hornets were unable to find the back of the net Cal State Northridge added a goal off a lose ball in the home box with less than two minutes to play to push the final tally to 3-0.
"They're a veteran group; they play with confidence and belief," Lineneberger said. "We're a young group that is still trying to find ourselves, and I think we're getting better and better every game."
Shots on goal were even for the match at 4-4, but the Matadors finished three of their four tries on net. Cal State Northridge had an 11-5 overall shot advantage but the Hornets had the majority of the corner kicks, earning four corners in each half with an 8-4 advantage for the match.
For the first time in program history the Hornets will play consecutive matches against ranked teams as Sacramento State will host No. 25 UC Irvine at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hornet Field. The Anteaters dropped to 5-3-2 after a 2-0 loss at UC Davis on Friday.